Touching Base: A College of Bishops Ministry of Connecting with the Connection is an intentional effort of the College of Bishops of the CME Church to be in touch with the Connectional Church.
Each third Wednesday of the month in 2021, a bishop will provide an inspirational message to be shared with the church. This month's message is provided by Presiding Bishop Sylvester Williams, Sr. of the Third Episcopal District.
The monthly schedule for the inspirational messages is as follows.
Celebrating Our 150th Anniversary!
The College of Bishops
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
A STATEMENT ON COVID-19 VACCINATIONS
January 27, 2021
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to rage throughout the United States, the news of vaccinations to prevent the COVID-19 disease has been met with mixed responses. Scientists, government, and many others are excited that the vaccine was developed in record time. Others, particularly black and brown people, recall medical experiments and medical exploitation in years past, and are less enthusiastic about taking a vaccination.
For people of faith, including CMEs, the decision to take or not take the vaccine must be an informed decision. You should not let misinformation and/or a misunderstanding of the facts, lead to a decision that is not right for you.
The College of Bishops are advocates for the COVID-19 vaccination. However, the decision to receive or not receive is a PERSONAL HEALTH DECISION.
Some have asked, what does the Bible say about vaccinations? Well, the truth is the Bible says "nothing" specific about vaccinations. In the historical context in which the Bible was written, science and biology had not advanced to the point where that concept and many other health issues were understood.
However, the Bible does offer us insight into the principles upon which we should make decisions. The principle of love is one such spiritual value that should guide us. We are reminded over and over throughout the biblical word to love God, love ourselves and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Taking the vaccination just be a way of showing love for your family, friends and neighbors. If you don't get the virus, you can't spread the virus. Love of neighbor is a obligation of our Christian faith, not an option.
Second, vaccinations are not a new thing - they have been around for years since scientists came to better understand viruses and how they operate. Most of us have taken vaccinations since we began elementary school. Measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, chicken pox and influenza vaccinations have slowed the devastating spread of those diseases, and most of us have taken those vaccinations. The anti-vaccine movement is a recent manifestation whose scientific data has yet to disprove the effectiveness of vaccinations.
Finally, some are fearful of the side effects of the vaccination. Black and brown people are disproportionately affected and are dying from COVID-19. The long-term effects of survivors are just beginning to be understood. A vaccination is the only long-term preventive measure we
have against this disease. All medications have side effects that affect each person differently. No one refuses life-saving medication because of the small minority who have experienced side effects from that same medication.
The decision to receive or not receive is a PERSONAL HEALTH DECISION. Please get the facts, get the information you need, do not rely on what you hear word of mouth or from unreliable sources. Discuss your particular health condition with your doctor, think of the impact a COVID-19 disease will have on you, your family and your lifestyle. Don't procrastinate, the time is now to make this crucial decision that can determine the course of the rest of your life.
The CME College of Bishops
Bishop Kenneth W. Carter, Chair
Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Secretary
Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Senior Bishop
Statement on Vaccinations from the CME College of Bishops
A Biblical Reflection on Vaccinations
***New*** FAQ and Guide to Supporting Vaccine Confidence for Faith and Community Leaders toolkit from the Department of Health and Human Services
***New***Black Faith Community (90 second) PSA on COVID-19 Vaccine
Guidance for Holy Week and Easter 2021
Guidance for Ash Wednesday
COVID-19 and the Black Community: A Pathway Forward
Video: "CME Town Hall: A Conversation on the Vaccine Pros and Cons for People of Color (Hosted by Rev. Dr. Skip Mason)"
Video: "COVID-19 Vaccine: Take It or Not?"
Facts About Vaccinations
COVID-19 Vaccinations - What to Expect Handout
A BIBLICAL REFLECTION ON VACCINATIONS
An old story caught my attention as I wrestle with a biblical response to a global pandemic that has left us isolated and concerned about our existing health. In the book of beginnings, which we know as the book of Genesis, we see Noah facing humanity's challenge of the flood! He did indeed survive the flood but needed to know how to move forward and to rebuild a life.
Listen to the words of scripture in Genesis 8:6-13:
6 After forty days, Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth, so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
13 By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.
Interesting that Noah used the instruments that he had at his disposal to discern how to end what I would consider a world pandemic. Noah released a raven and dove from the ark at different times. The goal in sending these birds was to determine if the floodwaters had abated enough for Noah and his family to exit the ark. The use of these birds was the science of his day. A dove would return to its point of origin if the dove found no dry land. A raven would eat on the dead carcass once found upon the ground.
Today, we have evolved above and beyond Noah's days, but pandemics still find residence within our human lives. Noah used the science of a raven and dove to discover when life must progress. And today is no different; we are challenged to use the science that we have at our disposal to discern how to end this pandemic and when it is safe to return to our new normal.
I recognized that it is not that simple because this pandemic is complex, and so is our history with science as it has not always been kind to our community. Science has been used for cruelty and horrific acts against the people who have been kissed by nature's sun! We have been abused in the name of science. We have been inflicted as people of color for the sake of medical progress. Who can forget the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the infamous "HeLa" cells, cancerous cells stolen from Henrietta Lacks without her family's consent! We shall not forget!
However, we cannot allow the same history that hurt our people, become the shackles we wear to fight a virus that has been the most significant proponent of health disparity and death within our community. As hurtful as it is, our history is local, and the pandemic is global, ravaging nations across our globe. In the United States, 400,000 plus have died, and the number is still rising as I pen this statement.
We need a Noah like faith and desire to restore the land and offer the opportunity to live free of masks, death, and COVID 19 disease. We don't have a raven or dove to let us know that it is time to move beyond the pandemic, but we do have vaccines that will give us hope of a day beyond the floodwaters of fear and demise. I encourage you to read and educate yourself on the different vaccines offered to the public. Our calling in this conversation is to equip you and encourage you to think critically about the vaccine and the positive effects on our day to day lives! When we do this, we look for a brighter day when the floodwaters recede, and we can exit the ark of quarantine to live again!
Dr. Charley Hames, Jr.
Beebe Memorial Cathedral CME Church experiencebmc.org
January 20, 2021
Dr. Kirsten Kennedy, an African-American female doctor at University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Hospital does an excellent presentation on the virus and COVID-19 vaccinations. She starts speaking at the 6:25 minute mark. It is a great overview of the science of the vaccines in lay terms.
Dear CME Family:
The Communication and Information Technology (CIT) Connectional Department is sharing virtual ministry resources for connectional members, local churches, Districts and Episcopal Districts to use through this season of social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus.
View more virtual ministry resources and CIT services and training information here.
CME Connectional Resources
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Welcome to the official Web site of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, administered by the Communication & Information Technology (CIT) Connectional Department.
The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Church, familiarly known as the CME Church, has a glorious and rich history! The CME Church was organized December 16, 1870 in Jackson, Tennessee by 41 former slave members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The CME Church is a branch of Wesleyan Methodism founded and organized by John Wesley in England in 1844 and established in America as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784.
The CME Church celebrated its 149th anniversary on December 16, 2019.
The CME Church has more than 1.2 million members across the United States, and has missions and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica and fourteen African nations.
The mission of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is to be disciples of Jesus the Christ by serving individuals, communities and the world as the representative, loving presence of God and as witnesses to God’s salvation and grace.
The vision of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is to be a transforming church for Jesus the Christ within a changing world.